I've just made reservations for two weeks in Northern Ireland/Ireland this May/June and am looking for suggestions or recommendations on things to do. We're a group of six 50-somethings, and will be going to Belfast, Kilkenny, Killarney and Dublin. We're planning on the Giants Causeway and the Ring of Kerry, but don't have anything else specific planned. I would like to go on a trail ride - I'm the only who rides, but could probably talk at least one other into going with me. Any recommendations on where to do a trail ride and or anything else that is a must-do?
I have only been to Dublin and the surrounding areas. The people were great, the countryside was fabuluous, food was expensive but surprisingly good. I loved everything about it :yes:
We stayed at the Morrison Hotel right on the Liffey across from Temple Bar
Things I really recommend;
The book of Kells in the library at Trinity College
Newgrange in County Meath not far out of Dublin, very cool
The Irish National stud
There is a boat ride down the River Liffey to Waterford that I wanted to try but I didn't have the time.
I can't wait to go again. Hope you have a great time.
Well, of course you have to go to the Irish National Stud. http://irishnationalstud.ie/ It's only 45 minutes from Dublin.
Trinity College,Dublin (book of Kells) and some of the old cathedrals/cemetaries are interesting, fly fishing is great. Hope you like fish, it's the most reliable (taste-wise) food.. don't get the urge for pizza or mexican food on your last days there,lol I prefer pub food and the local chaps are chatty and interesting. The Irish national stud farm, Curragh race track or even see where they are racing that week. If you know which days you will be in what counties, maybe look at the local horse show schedule. I think Team Ireland is showing on the continent but their site may have some local info.
The Beleek factory or Waterford if you like to shop. If you have time to go more north the Bushmills distillery... Guiness one is touristy,but if you like beer it's fun to look. I think Kerrygold has a little cheese/butter museum/educational spot.
If you are doing any ancestry type searching you should know in advance which registry office you need before you go. Most the N. Ireland families would be the Belfast office and the rest would be Dublin. Same if you are doing family grave spotting,do some research ahead of time. When you get to your family history location,talk to the old guys they are used to Americans on the search and may even recall some of your relatives.
Often small towns have community entertainment on the weekends and that's pretty fun, the local get together and sing,dance, or whatever in the town center and eventually move on over to a pub, it's inclusive and not really geared to amuse tourists, all are welcome to spectate and participate.
Have GOOD walking shoes,look right then left before crossing ANY street, beware ALL the drivers even when you are driving yourself.
I did a study abroad program at Trinity College in Dublin and we also spent a week at Queens in Belfast. Belfast I wasn't crazy about--just harder to get around the city. Do a mural tour there though if you can; it's really kind of an essential experience to understand the Troubles and the history of Northern Ireland. Giant's Causeway is really beautiful--I actually didn't even make it to the causeway itself, I just wandered off and spent the day sitting on a big grassy bluff overlooking the ocean. The Carrick-a-rede rope bridge is near there also and is a great experience--I am terrified of heights, but I made it across. (:
You can go riding in Dublin in Phoenix Park; the stable that goes there is Ashford or Ashcroft or something like that, and it's just north of the city (you can get there on one bus line). You can also go riding in the Wicklow Mountains, I believe, though I didn't get to do that. TCD is definitely a must-see; I love the campus there. Take the time to go wander around it completely (there are a couple pubs on campus too). Book of Kells is very popular and very crowded, but the old library itself is gorgeous, so it's worth it. There's a great bookstore/cafe, the Winding Stair, just north of the Ha'penny Bridge. Temple Bar is a fun area and they have a big used book sale in the square on Saturdays (or at least during the summer). The Irish Film Centre is there and is really nice. There's the horse fair on weekends--can't remember the streets, but it's north side. Grafton Street is touristy but fun; if you want to actually buy anything, there's a shopping centre at the opposite end of Grafton from TCD, next to St. Stephen's Green, and the shops in there are much cheaper. Just north of the O'Connell and Ha'penny Bridges are a lot of cheaper shops also.
The Guinness storehouse/brewery is a must. The Jameson's distillery is also pretty fun; it's less crowded and touristy and is north of the Liffey. Right near it is St. Michan's church, which is only open at weird hours, but you can go into their crypt and touch a couple of the mummified bodies. Also in weird but awesome, the Natural History Museum is free admission; it's known as the "Dead Zoo" because it's filled with the most terrible and bizarre and hilarious taxidermy you will ever see in your life.
Taking the DART out of Dublin will take you to some neat little side trips, like Joyce's tower at Sandycove, or Howth, which is a cute little town. The ice cream place in Howth has Pooh Bear Delight ice cream which is the best ice cream in the world and if you go and can somehow send me a pint I will be your best friend forever. You can also get it at the ice cream place next to The Temple Bar in Temple Bar.
If you want any drinking recommendations, I can oblige you, but my knowledge of Dublin's pubs is too extensive to list here. (;
Well, I was there a LONG time ago, but here's a list of my 'must sees':
Book of Kells
Meeting of the Waters at Avoca (when I was there, truly wonderful with one arm of a Y a clear stream and the other a very muddy one - staying separate colors for several yards downstream, then slowly merging)
A walking tour of Wexford (the Woolworth's was Cromwell's headquarters)
Rock of Cashel
Cliffs of Moher
Have a WONDERFUL time!
Rock of Cashel
We went riding at Tipperary Mountain Trekking, and it was amazing. We were on the top of a mountain and could see for counties. I rode a little Connemara who was awesome, and we jumped cross country and I had a blast.
I have lots of pictures if you'd like to see them!
This is great info that I'm interested in, too. Husband and I are planning Ireland at around the same time as the OP (May/June) for a couple of weeks. It will be our honeymoon....nine years late! ;)
I may want to ride while I'm there...haven't decided yet...so I'm interested in the Tipperary Trekking that spacytracy mentioned.
Reading all this is getting me all giddy! :D
Thanks for the recommendations! I'm start adding them to my list. SarahandSam, pub recommendations would be greatly appreciated! And spacytracy, I would love to see your pics! Thanks!
DH and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon. I loved the Ring of Kerry- definitely worth doing a tour of instead of driving yourself because then both of you can see. Also the Waterford Crystal factory is amazing. But my favorite was the town of Dingle- I would pick up and move there in a heartbeat.
I've been a few times. Lived in Belfast for a bit doing some field study during college.
I'm not a huge fan of the larger cities. Belfast murals are great. Dublin pubs are great, Trinity College, etc. But for me the unique beauty of Ireland is in the villages and countryside.
Country treks and riding XC are not to be missed, IMHO. The boat ride down the Liffey sounds great.
The Ring of Kerry is stunning!!! Wish I'd spent time hiking or driving and picnicking around there, with a nice camera.
Note if you are driving, you will get lost everywhere you go. So it will take you 2-3 times the driving estimate to get anywhere. And Americans are advised to get full insurance because you will beat up the poor rental car!!
Some of those little village pubs with live music and dancing will be magical.
B&Bs can be a great value!! If I were planning a trip now, I would stay in a combination of upscale hotels in the city, maybe splurge on a country castle hotel, and also stay at some quaint B&Bs.
Have a great time!!
(N. Ireland is very safe. Late summer tends to be the worst because of marching season. Some areas kind of close down as those who can leave town, do. It's depressing that time of year, though it's gotten a lot better since I was there, so my info may be pretty outdated. Do never (!) walk away from your bags, though, for even a minute or you'll cause a lot of anxiety!!)
DH and I had no trouble driving or getting lost and it was pretty easy adjusting to driving on the "wrong" side of the road- I even had a stick shift. I would say though that driving in Ireland is not for the faint of heart LOL!
Originally Posted by ako
Little notes: I'm a very timid rider. It was a scary/exhilarating ride for me. I brought my own helmet. I wasn't going to take a chance with a new horse and someone else's helmet.
The woman was awesome, so nice. But undersell your ability. They ride at a much faster, no holds barred pace. She gave me a choice of an off the track horse, and the pony, and I am so glad I chose the pony. Basically they're crazy over there. Haha.
Oh, I second the Newgrange/Glendalough and also Tara. There are some other hill forts also besides Newgrange that aren't as well-known but are less heavily visited/touristy.
Spacytracy - your daughter is absolutely adorable!!!! I loved looking at the pics of her...she definitely looked like she was returning to the homeland! And I was able to see the pics of your ride and appreciate the notes. I'm a wimpy overweight middle-aged beginner so have no problems underselling my ability!! Did they have helmets available for use? I don't think I'll be able to fit a helmet in my luggage - I'm already worried about trying to carry two weeks worth of clothing.
They do and also have boots. But stuff your helmet with clothes. Worked for me!
The woman has a page on Facebook, she is really sweet. She even picked us up from the train!
I recommend the Cliffs of Moher. Beautiful.
The TOP of my list
I am going within the next year. Just me! I have always wanted to go and before I am too old or chicken, I MUSt do it.
I really want to do the riding vacation. But my jumping is rather rusty. I would love some feed back and ideas as well from anyone who has done it. Where to contact, etc.
What is the best time of year to go. Do not mean to hijack, but figured since it was the same type of question. :winkgrin:
Believe me when I tell you I suck. All you have to do is hold on. Those horses know their job.
We're going in a year and a half. I can't wait!